Thursday, July 16, 2009

Driving Miss McKoala


I did make it to Kiama, found a lighthouse, found a blowhole

Unfortunately, to my great disappointment, no matter where I looked around here, I just could never find the legendary McKoala. I had a pretty decent idea what she looked like, but just... she wasn't there.

However, quite bizarrely, I did run into McKoala's very good friend Shona. Shona had with her Mr. Shona, Boy Shona, and Princess Shona as well.

It wasn't McK, but I decided to make do with this group, and so off we went to watch the blowhole semi-blowing, more like the sniffling hole today, and then off to find lunch.

For lunch, I did get to learn all about sports clubs that have slots in them. Apparently, they rake in money this way and so end up supporting lots of sports teams. As I understand it, you can only eat in these clubs if you are a member or you live sufficiently far away so that you can become a temporary member. So temporary members we became and then we were able to feast upon sausages and mash, octopus salad, chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets and a couple battens of chips.

Yay, I used "batten of chips". I learned this lovely phrase from my extensive petrol station dining over the first three days. More on that soon.

As you might expect, it turns out that Shona and clan are quite nice people, easy to get along with, have lovely smiles, and are just generally a winning bunch. You would only expect this, of course, because McK would never choose someone for her close friend if they were not like this.

Princess Shona did a dance for me, Soccer Boy Shona discussed the midfield position, and the adult Shonas filled me in on all sorts of things.

And here's what you've been waiting for. Most of the clan in front of our new favorite church.

After the first Minions Down Under Meet, I jumped back in the car to race south about 5 hours to beat my next hotel's reception closing time in Eden, New South Wales.

Australia becomes quite rural not too long past Kiama, and it stays that way until you hit some towns getting close to Melbourne. It's farm land for a long long time with a whole lotta cows and sheep. Eventually that switched to 2-3 hundred kilometers of eucalypt forest. Here's a little country road off the main one inside these forests.

And a massive field of flowers somewhere in Victoria. This is just one piece of the pasture.

Life is real quiet in these parts and half of the vehicles you pass in the forest are either logging trucks or caravans, i.e., campers.

Here is my beautiful Hyundai Getz that has been getting me around. It's a beast.

These forests continued for a long, long time with periodic watch for kangaroo signs, watch for wombat signs, and one boring old watch for deer sign.

Apparently, leaping roos and wallabies are a real hazard, and I was warned by both Bernie and Mr. Shona. They are big enough that slamming one of them can hurts your car by a thousand or more easy.

But for me, I couldn't wait to see some creature. I did see something hunched over and munching plants in the late afternoon, and then another something hopped out of the way of an oncoming car just as I got there. Finally the next day I managed to pull to the side of the freeway ans capture a pic of this one.

I can tell you with some confidence now that this is not a kangaroo but a black wallaby. Works for me. Tomorrow/later I have better pics of wallabies but they were at a nature conservatory, while this was a real wallaby living in the bush, so that's cool for me.

Eventually, I did make it all the way around, about 1100 kilometers from Sydney to Melbourne. I managed to eat nothing but gas station food all the way, with the exception of the Shona meet-up of course. So I can tell you all about meat pies, pepper steak pies, "massive sausage logs" (That's what she said), vegie pasties, chikitos (actually still don't know what that was), salt and vinegar chicken tenders, and battens of chips either with salt shaken on top or "chicken" which appears to be some sort of freaky chicken bouillon mix. I don't think a vegetable other than the potato passed my lips for 72 hours.

Tomorrow / later: Phillip Island


Precie said...

Yay for meeting the Shonas and exploring Australia!!!! Thanks for sharing!

Robin S. said...

Wow, this is great reporting, paca - and I'm with Precie again- thanks for sharing!!

And you got a Princess dance to boot - lucky thing.

pjd said...

I have been, sadly, away from blogs other than my own for a few days. (Blame it on Jason Evans.) I'm glad I popped by and saw this. Yay for the first Minions Down Under Meet!

Courtney said...

this was wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thanks for showing us! i miss u big brother! hope ur having fun and again, congrats on presenting a paper like this! ur gonna make a great professor!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a bizarre coincidence re: the Shonas. How lucky for them and for you to have been able to meet :)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Wonderful story and pics and chance meeting of the Shonas.

fairyhedgehog said...

So, no bloodied claws then? You were lucky.

They're great pictures and I'm envious. Most of all about the Minions Down Under Meet.

Chris Eldin said...

I just read Mck's post and popped right over here--- LOVE the title, "Driving Miss Koala!!!"

Beautiful pics, though I think that wallaby maybe Koala in disguise? She seems to follow Shona just about everywhere...

LOL at the blowhole story!!!! I'm still chuckling!!!

I'm so happy that you're sharing your experience. I've met two fellow bloggers--Robin and Sarah L--and hope one day to meet more. I feel closer to some of my writing/blogging buddies than to people in my "real" life. Funny how that happens sometimes!

Glad you had a great experience--can't wait to hear more!!!